This post was inspired by the death of a miracle fruit plant of mine due to my inability to acidify the soil in time. RIP.
Changing Soil Acidity in Garden
Those who want to keep healthy plants in their garden should make it a point to determine the right pH for the soil and maintain the same. When the soil has the proper pH, the plants will effectively absorb the nutrients that are required for their growth. As the first step, one has to decide the changes that are to be made so as to ensure the proper pH of the soil. By way of lowering the pH, the acidity can be increased. In case the soil is too acidic the pH must be raised. By way of adding a few common compounds to the soil the pH can be lowered and acidity of the soil will increase. By way of adding a liming material or a different base compound the pH of the soil can be increased so that the soil will become less acidic. Normally, the pH of garden soils will be in the range 5.5 – 8.0. The soil with pH 7.0 is considered as neutral – neither acidic nor alkaline. Hence, when the pH of garden soil is less than 6, it is highly acidic and similarly when it is more than 7.5, the soil is highly alkaline. When it is highly acidic you need to add ground limestone to the soil in order to increase the pH and sulfur is to be added to the highly alkaline soil in order to reduce the ph. In places where there is very high rainfall the soil will be acidic and in places with less rainfall, the soil will be alkaline. Wherever you are, by adding lime or sulfur you can change the soil acidity in the garden.
Quantity of limestone or Sulfur to be added
It is very important to ensure that only the recommended quantity of limestone or sulfur is added to the soil to rectify the pH imbalance. Lawn and Garden service centers and the various labs that conduct soil analysis will provide charts from which we can easily find out the exact quantity of limestone or sulfur required for 1000 sq ft of the garden. From the data you can calculate the total quantity of the material required to change the soil acidity in the whole garden area.
The process of adding limestone/sulfur to the garden soil
A simple machine known as ‘Drop Spreader’ is used to add limestone or sulfur to the soil. This machine is not very expensive and using this machine the material can be spread evenly. One can also rent this machine from anyone of the nurseries. Those who have the skill to spread the material evenly can do this task manually also. However, while spreading the material by hand one must wear the gloves and also should do the work very carefully throughout. Limestone or sulfur is to be added after uniformly tilling the land to a depth of minimum 5 inches.
Testing the pH of your garden soil
Plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, Azaleas and conifers will prefer the soil with pH in the range 5 – 5.5, whereas grasses, vegetables and ornamental plants will grow well in slightly acidic soil with pH in the range 5.8 – 6.5. Once you know the pH range that is ideal for your garden soil you may test the soil to find out its pH at present. Either a commercial soil test can be conducted at the home or at the garden store or the sample of the soil may be forwarded to a soil testing lab that will test the sample and accurately determine the pH of the soil. In DIY method the pH of the soil is determined by making own pH test strips.